FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 1998

ENR

UNITED STATES AND CONNECTICUT SECURE $32 MILLION SETTLEMENT

TO CLEAN UP OLD SOUTHINGTON LANDFILL SUPERFUND SITE

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States and the State of Connecticut today reached a $32 million settlement with 268 parties that will fund the clean up of a Connecticut Superfund site. The 11 acre Old Southington Landfill, located southwest of Hartford, operated from 1920 to 1967, and is now heavily contaminated with solvents and metals. The settlement, lodged today in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, requires the Pratt and Whitney Division of United Technologies Corporation and the Town of Southington to clean up the site, while other parties make lump sum cash payments based on the amount and type of waste they each sent to the site. The payments will be put toward the cost of the cleanup. Under today's settlement the United States will recover $11 million in cleanup costs, will contribute up to $8.8 million toward the $20 milion cleanup, and will give up its claims for an additional $4 million in costs. In addition, all the settling parties will pay a total of $5 million to the Town and Pratt & Whitney to reimburse them for study and clean up costs they incurred. The Town owned and operated the landfill where Pratt and Whitney, like most of the other parties to today's settlement, disposed of waste. As part of the cleanup, the Town and Pratt will relocate the businesses located on the landfill, cap the landfill, extract any hazardous gases, and study contamination in the groundwater. The cleanup plan also calls for excavating and sealing off an area of especially high contamination, known as a "hot spot." One problem faced by the parties is that there are a large number of waste contributors at the site that have gone out of business. Under existing Superfund law, the remaining parties have to pay for the entire cleanup. "EPA is experimenting with different ways to make the Superfund program fairer and faster," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Under this settlement, the government will pay $13 million in cleanup costs to help fill the gap left by defunct companies responsible for contamination." The parties to the settlement will be relieved of their

liability to EPA, the State, Pratt and Whitney, G.E. and the Town. "It is very difficult for parties to settle their Superfund liability at municipal landfills, especially at sites like this one, where there are no records. Waste contributors at such sites often sue each other and they can be tied up in litigation for years," said John DeVillars, Regional Administrator for EPA's New England office in Boston. "Because this settlement involves virtually all of the parties at this site, we can now avoid litigation and focus our efforts on expediting the cleanup." To reach this settlement, the parties and the governments worked cooperatively, using mediators, to develop a method for dividing up the cleanup costs among themselves. "This settlement will achieve cleanup in a way that is particularly helpful to the business community, including many small Connecticut businesses, because it will enable them to pay an equitable share of the cleanup costs without significant impact to their businesses," said John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. "This settlement is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when EPA gets involved in resolving Superfund liability through mediation," said Schiffer. 268 out of a total of 271 responsible parties at the site, including 265 industrial and commercial businesses and three federal agencies, are participating in the settlement. "Its unusual to see this high a level of participation in a settlement when you have so many parties. We believe this is a result of the parties' development of an equitable way to divide up the cleanup costs and EPA's agreement to fund the defunct parties' shares," said EPA's DeVillars. "We tried new ways to reach an agreement at the Old Southington Landfill," said Steven A. Herman, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Hard work paid off here. The parties reached a fair settlement that protects the public and the environment, and EPA gained practical experience to evaluate these new approaches for use at other Superfund sites." "More and more today, the success of environmental cleanups hinges on the cooperation between the state and federal agencies, local officials, the public and the responsible parties," said Arthur J. Rocque, Jr., Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner. "Everybody involved in reaching this settlement focused on the objective - cleaning up this site and protecting human health and the environment. This cleanup, and the cooperation that developed to make it possible, serve as an example of how Superfund can work." "This landmark settlement is the result of cooperation between state and federal authorities, the Town and the business community to clean up this site, and it sets an example for what can be accomplished when all parties work together toward a constructive solution," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. "It is an equitable settlement that lays the groundwork for the remediation of this contaminated property." EPA is considering whether there is a need for a groundwater cleanup at the Site. At the same time, EPA is developing another settlement that will enable most of the parties to put responsibility for the groundwater cleanup at the Site behind them. The proposed settlement will published in the Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period and is subject to court approval. ###

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